ONE NIGHT, A HANDSOME DOCTOR AND HIS beautiful wife attend a grand Christmas party thrown by a wealthy friend. It is a glamorous affair with champagne, glittering lights, and a jazz orchestra on the stage. While observing the dance floor, the doctor notices that the jazz pianist is an old friend from medical school who never completed his degree. After catching up with his chum about the old days, the doctor begins to mingle. Meanwhile, his wife returns from the bathroom and meets a Hungarian billionaire (a veritable George Soros), who invites her to dance. While dancing, the billionaire tries to seduce her, despite the ring on her finger. At this point, the doctor is chatting with two gorgeous supermodels, who are trying to persuade him to have sex with both of them. But before he can make a decision, he is interrupted by a servant, who leads him to the bathroom where the party's host is stuck with a naked prostitute who has OD'd on a speedball (coke and heroin). The doctor revives her and returns to the party, where his wife (now free of the generous billionaire's spell) is waiting for him. They return home and have sex.

This is the opening scene of Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's last film. And what it represents is an intact slice of the couple's life: We see that they are young, beautiful, and successful, that they are adored and desired by friends, that they have a darling child and an incredible apartment filled with tasteful art and furniture -- and that the perfect party they attend that night complements their seamless perfection. This introduction, this intact slice of life, serves as the perfect overture to the whole movie, presenting not only the important themes Eyes Wide Shut will explore and elaborate upon, but also the principal characters who will propel the plot (the jazz man, the prostitute, the rich man, the husband and wife). Essentially, this scene, this numinous night out, is what Kubrick wants to open up and explain: What made it possible? And what forces within the couple worked to generate an evening that began and ended in this manner?

As with scientific research that tries to determine an atom's composition by destroying it, for Kubrick to answer these questions a deep crack is needed -- a crack that will lead to the total break up of the parts which manufactured this intact and spectacular opening. To initiate this crack and consequent break up, Kubrick has the couple smoke a long stick of marijuana. Once high, the film doesn't come down until the very end.

It was Borges who wrote that every word implies the entire universe. For Eyes Wide Shut, this one word happens to be "fuck." At the moment of a fuck, what personal and psychological luggage does each lover bring, construct, and disperse with the release of the orgasm? What is the game, the arrangement (passive, aggressive) of that moment? What is he thinking? What is she thinking? Having smoked pot, we begin our journey through these impossible questions, and the necessary crack happens when the stoned wife (Nicole Kidman) informs the stoned doctor (Tom Cruise) that she would have left him and everything they represent for one night with a navy officer she saw at a seaside resort some years before. Upon hearing this, the doctor loses all sense of ground, and everything breaks apart. We then see him leave home and drift around the streets, picturing the impossible: his wife fucking this naval officer to the end of the world.

During his course through the city and the fragments of his marriage, the doctor is hit on by the daughter of a dead patient, approached by a prostitute, and finally, enters a bizarre party in a mansion. Meanwhile, his wife is in bed dreaming furiously of her naval officer; she has sex with him and then with hundreds of other men, while her husband watches in disgust. All these shards of images drift out farther and farther like some galaxy expanding after a big bang, and in the haze of it all we glimpse the shade, the shape of some answers. Sex is wonderful, but also very dangerous. Nothing is what it appears to be. Nothing lasts forever.

Already in July, we have had two films that explore the subject of marriage: Mike Figgis' The Loss of Sexual Innocence, and Spike Lee's Summer of Sam. Each of these films, like Kubrick's movie, stand as grand statements on the subject. But where Figgis sets his investigation of marriage against the backdrop of the mythical story of Adam and Eve, and Spike Lee sets his against a big crime story, Kubrick sticks just to the marriage. There is no backdrop in Eyes Wide Shut, just a glittering investigation that begins and ends with a fuck.

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